Afghan protesters in front of Bagram Air Base during an anti-U.S. demonstration, Feb. 21, 2012. (AP)
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Updated at 8:35 a.m. ET
KABUL, Afghanistan - More than 2,000 angry Afghans protested outside an American air base on Tuesday after they learned that copies of the Quran (Koran), the Muslim holy book, were burned in a pile of garbage at a sprawling U.S. military base north of Kabul.
"Die, die, foreigners!" the demonstrators shouted. Some fired rifles into the air. Others threw rocks at the gate of the base.
A CBS News crew traveled to the sprawling Bagram Air Field in Parwan province and saw the remnants of several tires which were set on fire at an entrance gate to the sprawling U.S. base, and as many as several hundred protesters were still chanting at another gate, but appeared to be dispersing.
The burning of the Quran and other religious books was unintentional, said U.S. Gen. John Allen, the top commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
The incident stoked anti-foreign sentiment that already is on the rise after a decade of war in Afghanistan and fueled the arguments of Afghans who claim foreign troops are not respectful of their culture or Islamic religion.
Early Tuesday, as word of the incident spread, about 100 demonstrators gathered outside the base. As the crowd grew, so did the outrage.
One protester, Mohammad Hakim, said if U.S. forces can't bring peace to Afghanistan, they should go home.
"They should leave Afghanistan rather than disrespecting our religion, our faith," Hakim said. "They have to leave and if next time they disrespect our religion, we will defend our holy Quran, religion and faith until the last drop of blood has left in our body."
Ahmad Zaki Zahed, chief of the provincial council, said U.S. military officials took him to a burn pit on the base where 60 to 70 books, including Qurans, were recovered. The books were used by detainees once incarcerated at the base, he said.
"Some were all burned. Some were half-burned," Zahed said, adding that he did not know exactly how many Qurans had been burned.
Zahed said five Afghans working at the pit told him that the religious books were in the garbage that two soldiers with the U.S.-led coalition transported to the pit in a truck late Monday night. When they realized the books were in the trash, the laborers quickly worked to recover them, he said.
"The laborers there showed me how their fingers were burned when they took the books out of the fire," he said.
In a statement, Allen said he had ordered an investigation and offered his apologies to the president and people of Afghanistan. He thanked local Afghan workers "who helped us identify the error, and who worked with us to immediately take corrective action."
"We are thoroughly investigating the incident and are taking steps to ensure this does not ever happen again," Allen said. "I assure you, I promise you, this was not intentional in any way."
Afghan Army Gen. Abdul Jalil Rahimi, the commander of a military coordination office in the province, said he and other officials met with protesters, tribal elders and clerics to try to calm their emotional response. "The protesters were very angry and didn't want to end their protest," he said.
Later, however, the protesters ended the rally and said they would send 20 representatives from the group to Kabul to talk with Afghan parliamentarians and demanded a meeting with President Hamid Karzai, Rahimi said.
The governor's office in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan called the incident a "shameful move by some stupid individuals."
Zia Ul Rahman, deputy provincial police chief, said between 2,000 and 2,500 protesters demonstrated at the base.
"The people are very angry. The mood is very negative," Rahman said while the rally was going on. "Some are firing hunting guns in the air, but there have been no casualties."
Police said a similar protest on Tuesday just east of Kabul ended peacefully.
In April 2011, Afghans protesting the burning of a Quran by a Florida pastor turned deadly when gunmen in the crowd stormed a U.N. compound in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif and killed three staffers and four Nepalese guards.
Separately, officials in Helmand province in the south said insurgents beheaded four people Sunday night in Washer district on the charge that they were spies.
"The militants told the local people that they were guilty because they were carrying satellite phones," provincial spokesman Daoud Ahmadi said.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said that the militant group was not involved in the killings.
Also in the south, a NATO service member died Tuesday as a result of a non-battle related injury. The U.S. led coalition gave no further details about the death. So far this year, 44 NATO service members have been killed in Afghanistan.
Here is a suggestion that i would like to throw in the hat for discussion,and if it can sprout roots with this community and others well we grow from there.I for one do not have a lot of money but i will put up what i can after my bills are paid.
We build little cells through out the country,that at first will be information gathering etc,etc.We then start our journey to Washington D.C.,our main purpose on this first leg of our journey will be to find sponsors who believe in what we are doing.I feel we have a lot of talent across the country and we recruit as we go.We focus on large communities of 250,000 or so and inform some patriots in those communities that we are coming to their towns,and ask for them to help open doors for us to speak and recruit new members and educate those who are willing to listen.
Meetings can take place in malls,town Halls,churches and so on.Logistics will be a big task as will be our endeavor,but its a start,as we travel we stop at rest areas and make ourselves know,n to those who want to listen to our message.Those who wish to stay and listen can stay or go,we are still a free country the last time i checked.
I think you get the idea and it will take time to agree to dis-agree but i would love to see 500 cars,motor homes and the like driving down our Highways and bi-ways with flags a flying.Denver/Colorado Springs are my stomping grounds. YOUR THOUGHTS PLEASE and as in war we look out for each other,Men/Women alike. Thank you,.....Joe
A good idea -formative--who decides the jump off -- and where is the EE Point? Patrick Henry spoke from Richmond Va a year prior to the Declaration. Talks had gone on for some time already-but everyone hoping to be party to your expeditionary force ought have knowledge of Patrick Henry . And be one who has taken as their own the Code. Men who have determined "I will NEVER surrender of my own free will..." I don't drive-- But I do have a flag. And some new shoes. And if the enemy want to hear the ISLAMIC call to Prayer being called from the top of the Washington Monument -or wherever. If they want their Brother in the White House to make ready the path to their unholy Caliphate in the United States. They will have to slay me first- For I will NOT convert to that bloody religion of destruction. If the Atheists and Infidels wish these United States to be a reflection of Lenins USSR-- or Hitlers Third Reich-- My father and his father served in the Navy that helped destroy Adolf's dream.I can do no less. To defend My Country against all enemy foreign or domestic. I have a flag-- and a new pair of shoes.And I am an American.
Robert, as Americans we all need to better learn about those that forged the way to creating this nation. I think too, that it is more than just simply reading the constitution, but better understanding the story behind it. I’m currently looking for DVD’s/ books that cover not just the document, but the details. Patrick Buchanan’s recent book is a good one for lighting a fire.
JOE! Thanks for thinking this through and it is a start to the Re-Declaration to reset our course as a nation. A lot on the plate and no time to waste. Lets start with evicting this Islamic sympathizer out of OUR White House.
Len ,I have read that Thomas Jefferson encouraged reading the Federalist Papers,Many years ago Thomas Sowell published a reading list -when our local paper still carried his column. included in the list was the Federalist Papers.-I have both the Federalist Papers Madison ,Hamilton and Jay-the Penguin classic. and I have the two vol. set "the Debate on the Constitution,Library of America. But Thomas Sowells suggestion led me to John Eidsmoe Christianity and the Constitution,and that back to The Christian legal Advisor which Covers the best consideration of our first Amendment I have found. And Eidsmoe introduced me to Joseph Story-so I have his A Familiar Exposition of the the Constitution of the United States,Regnery 1997 edition of the 1859 Original. I also like the Theme is Freedom ,by M.Stanton Evans. And Eidsmoe directed me to Donald S.Lutz The Relative Influence of European Writers on Late 18th Century American Political thought American Political Science Review 189(1984) pp189-97.And to M.E. Bradford A worthy Company :brief Lives of the Framers of the US Constitution. And I could Not appreciate the Founding if I excluded some of the sermons they heard preached-and they debated-- and they used as source in their political writing. the 2 vol. set by Ellis Sandoz Political Sermons of the American Founding era 1730-1805 is another invaluable source. these serve as the core of my library. The US Army did at least one thing right besides invention of the p-38 can opener-and the US Army Field Jacket. It trained us to consider the founding principles when preparing to defend against All enemies foreign or domestic. And that advice has served me well.
Robert, I'll use your reply as a reference to further educate myself. I have a copy of the constition in paper form, DVD and e-book, but I found it's just not enough to fully understand it.
Ah!!! The P-38 - the forked, tailed devil sent Yamamoto to a watery grave. That aircraft even amazed Lindberg.
I hope you will forgive my intrusion into your conversation. I am currently enrolled in Hillsdale College's on line course on the Constitution. Here are some additional sources which will give you additional sources that were read by the founding fathers.
On the Commonwealth - Cicero
Nicomachean Ethics - Aristotle
The Politics - Aristotle
Discourses Concerning Government - Algernon Sidney
Two Treatises on Government - John Locke
And lastly President Calvin Coolidge's 1926 speech on the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Most of the books I've listed can be found on Google Books and downloaded as pdf files. For Coolidge's speech just do a search for him on Google and you should come up with a website dedicated to him and the site has quite a few of his speeches. Look for the speech dated 7/5/1926. It is excellent. All of the other stuff I've listed is pretty heavy duty reading but it will give you a very good insight into what the founding fathers were thinking. If you want a good book on Washington get "The Real George Washington" published by the National Center for Constitutional Studies. If you would like more references just post something here. Enjoy the reading.
Marvin... adding it to my list... thanks for chiming in... much appreciated.
BTW, found a PDF on the federalist papers (all 85) and loaded it to my e-reader.
I am also taking part in that Hillsdale course. Already have the second treatise on Govt. by Locke. and the Politics of Aristotle. Silent Cal was a good solid Christian ,recall he taught Sunday School? I also have The Real George Washington--and the Real Thomas Jefferson- I guess they were ok.I prefer the Library of America series on both . George Washington :Writings. and Thomas Jefferson :Writings. ,and Benjamin Franklin,and Thomas Pain What I have so far from Library of America. In style John Jay -by his son Wm Jay is closer to the Real George Washington as it is a mix of commentary and letters. I am looking to add volumns about Samuel Adams- Am drawn to his work with the Sons of Liberty. And still much prefer reading about Abraham Lincoln. As Washington and Lincoln are the Presidents I find worthy role model of the early Presidents.
You're probably aware of this but the Federalist Papers can be some pretty heavy reading. Also, I have the Library of America 2 volume set of Debate On The Constitution. I would also suggest that. Don't get me wrong I think our Constitution is the best but a great many things that those opposed to it predicted have come true. Let me know if you need more reading material.
Marvin... Only had time to read the first few pages in No.1 and I see what you mean. Hamilton and other from that time wrote eloquently and used a plethora of words to fully express an idea. It’s similar to the style of writing that I’ve read in the Civil War letters of soldiers writing home… Sullivan Ballou’s letters come to mind.
Once again I'm probably preaching to the choir but you have to keep in mind that the meaning of many words and phrases have changed over the years. Some time ago I read Washington's Sacred Fire. The author was writing to defend Washington as a Christian. Ever since the 60s these so called learned scholars have been trying to portray Washington as a deist. I'm no scholar, but if you read what some very faithful churchmen wrote during Washington's time and what Washington himself wrote it is very apparent that he was a man with deep religious convictions. Once again if I can be of further assistance let me know.
I've been retired from the Army well over 20 years but I still carry a P38 on my key ring. Greatest little gadget the Army ever came up with. I know they don't make them anymore but given a choice I'll take C Rations over MRE's any time.